Why Man City should be very concerned by latest player comments on potential summer exit

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The Premier League champions could be in line to lose a big name in the near future

The ambiguity, the sour anticipation of a circling maybe, leaves a sting that lingers. Manchester City should be spending the summer basking in the warm afterglow of a fourth consecutive Premier League title, their sixth in seven years. Instead, you suspect that they will dedicate a considerable portion of sunny downtime fretting over the immediate future of that gingerest of wizards, Kevin De Bruyne.

Later this month, the Belgian talisman - part Merlin, part Tintin - will turn 33. Next June his contract at the Etihad is scheduled to expire. In amongst all of that, he continues to be a frequently-touted target for all manner of Saudi Arabian outfits with more money than sporting pedigree. In other words, these are, as far as De Bruyne’s fate is concerned, uncertain times indeed.

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And they have not been rendered any more concrete by the midfielder’s own take on the situation. Currently preparing for a European Championship campaign with home country, De Bruyne gave an interview with Het Laatste Nieuws in which he hinted quite frankly that he could be open to the prospect of a Middle Eastern transfer at some point soon.

“I still have one year left on my contract, so I have to think about what could happen,” he said. “My eldest is now eight years old and knows nothing but England. He also asks how long I will play for City. Once the moment comes, we will have to deal with it in a certain way.

“At my age you have to be open to everything. You’re talking about incredible amounts of money in what may be the end of my career. Sometimes you have to think about that. If I play there for two years, I will be able to earn an incredible amount of money. Before that I had to play football for 15 years. I may not even reach that amount yet. Then you have to think about what that could mean next. But at the moment I haven’t had to think about that yet.”

For City, the prospect of De Bruyne leaving is a frightening one. Evidently, he cannot endure forever in Manchester, but in no way, shape, or form, is he a player who has embarked on the slow downwards slope of his career just yet. Even now, as an elder statesman of the Premier League, he is still a peerless creative force, and one who, crucially, would be remarkably difficult to replace.

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In that sense, City, you would imagine, will ideally like to eke out as much time with him as possible. Obviously, losing him on a free transfer next summer would be a hammer blow in and of itself, but would it really be any worse than heading into the new season without De Bruyne at their disposal?

Of course, in an ideal world, the solution is for the Belgian to sign a new deal and see out his time at City until the club actually wish to offload him or he decides to retire - whichever comes first. But judging by these latest comments, neither of those options are by any means assured. And until some kind of definitive answer is given on where De Bruyne will be playing his football over the next year or two, City will continue to be subjected to the uncomfortable squeeze of speculation. Things aren’t exactly made better when the player concerned exacerbates those rumours either.

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